May 15, 2009

The Clientele – The Violet Hour (2003, Pointy)

The Clientele are a UK trio who put out a whole slew of 7”s between '98 and '02, along with a couple full-lengths on Pointy Records, in a dreamy, vintage-sounding brit-pop style. While their first album “Suburban Light” is a more straight-ahead rock album with a slightly '60s UK sound, their more dreamy side came through on their following “Lost Weekend” EP and '03's “The Violet Hour”. In this mix, the vocals are drenched in reverb, set back as more of an instrumental tone than straight-on lyrical expression. The guitar and drums are generally subdued, acoustic and mostly un-effected besides a soft reverb. The overall mood is summery and calm, slightly lonely and melancholy, but overall soothing. It reminds me slightly of the Cocteau Twins in that the vocals are obscured and hard to discern, helping the listener (me, at least) to focus less on the lyrics and appreciate the overall musical experience. The pace tends toward the down-tempo, chilled-out side, making the album very listenable and pleasant background music. The songs are expertly crafted, with long instrumental passages and intricate melodies, and quite catchy in spite of some of the words being obscured in reverb, perhaps more appropriate for humming than singing along. This album came at a time in my life when I had pretty much stopped paying attention to guitar-oriented vocal pop and rock music, focusing more on the electronic, abstract and “deep listening” side of the spectrum, but “The Violet Hour” made enough of an impression that I am still listening to it today.